Letters: the admirable strength of Ukrainians

The bravery of Ukraine Sir: Few articles could resonate as strongly as that of Svitlana Morenets (‘Scrambled logic’, 20 April). She brings the agony of her brave countrymen and women home to us, and the effect of dithering and equivocation by the West. As a volunteer with a refugee charity, I weekly admire the character of our Ukrainian clients, mainly older ladies who spend their time bringing us delicious homemade cakes, volunteering in charity shops and signing up to English classes at the local college. Tom Stubbs Surbiton, Surrey Well out of the EU Sir: I have huge respect for Lord Sumption as one of the few people with the

The Spectator’s letters page is hazardous 

Question time Sir: Your leading article ‘Sense prevails’ (13 April) is a valuable précis of the Cass Review into NHS gender treatment. However, it also raises several questions. How are the actions of these individuals, groups and organisations different from those of others who have been found to have acted unprofessionally, causing harm to patients who were entitled to place trust for their health in them? Where was the ethical and executive management oversight within the NHS? What other unproven ‘treatments’ are being carried out under the ever-growing demands for more money to be allocated to the NHS? Finally, what sanctions are to be meted out – or will we

Will abortion decide the 2024 election?

34 min listen

This week, the Arizona Supreme Court reinstated a law from 1864 that bans nearly all abortions in the state. But where do Trump and Biden stand on abortion, and will it be a deciding factor in the 2024 election?  Freddy’s joined by Inez Stepman, Fellow at the Claremont Institute, and Daniel McCarthy, Editor of Modern Age Journal.  Produced by Megan McElroy. 

The abortion debate returns

I don’t like talking about abortion and so rarely do. I have never written about it before. I am uncomfortable doing so here. It feels trite even to rehearse some of the debate. Can you simultaneously believe in a woman’s right to autonomy over her body and a baby’s right to life? Can you decide never to have an abortion, but also believe other women should be able to? Is an abortion at eight weeks different to an abortion at eight months? If pushed, I’d probably say that the answer to all of these questions is yes. Labour’s Stella Creasy is campaigning to fully decriminalise abortion in England and Wales.

Babies with Down’s syndrome have a right to be born

Many of us remember at least one morning in our childhoods when fate threw us some unexpected twist and we knew instantly that life would never be the same. Mine came in July 1991, two months shy of my fifth birthday. I had just received the news from my aunt that my mum had gone into labour overnight; my siblings and I had a new sister. We were gleefully baking biscuits that morning when we heard my father’s car on the drive returning from the hospital. But someone almost unrecognisable walked into the kitchen; shell-shocked, with a ghostly pallor. Something was wrong. We cannot legislate for the total eradication of

The stark horror of Barbara Comyns’s fiction was all too autobiographical

Barbara Comyns’s reputation rises and falls like a Mexican wave, making her one of the most rediscovered novelists of recent times. She’s credited with anticipating Angela Carter and for being in the vanguard of tackling themes of traumatic dissociation and the realities of childbirth. Yet younger, trendier writers have regularly eclipsed her. Aged 29, Barbara was broke: a single mother who’d weathered affairs, an abortion and a suicide attempt Every fan remembers their first Comyns novel: the visceral jolt of black humour, the suckerpunch of stark horror. Knowing that she drew from life, we have longed for a biography, and hooray, it’s finally here. Avril Horner, emeritus professor of English

Britney Spears is back with a vengeance

I am working on a play about Marilyn Monroe at the moment and, reading Britney Spears’s book, the similarities of these two fragile blondes came to mind. Both were celebrated and castigated for their woman-child sex appeal; both struggled with sinister Svengalis – Darryl Zanuck and Mickey Mouse. But one big difference between the two is that Marilyn often wished she had a father, while one imagines Britney often wishes she hadn’t. In the long and sorry history of parasitical men leeching off talented women, was there ever a more worthless example than Jamie Spears? He used his daughter as a cash-cow from her childhood; when she became an adult

Violence overshadowed my Yorkshire childhood

We might be twins, Catherine Taylor and I. We were both girls growing up in Yorkshire in the same decades – I in the West Riding (where an alley is a ‘ginnel’), her in the south (where it’s a ‘gennel’). We are children of the Yorkshire Ripper years, conditioned to be constantly scared of the murderer, the dark, and our independence. We were both fatherless too young – mine dead, hers departed to another household; and we both had strong mothers keeping the remaining family afloat and forced to take in lodgers – in our case, Polish, German and French, in hers, Japanese and Senegalese. Much of this bookis familiar

Blonde shows a Marilyn Monroe robbed of motherhood

Andrew Dominik’s film Blonde, a story of Marilyn Monroe’s life based on an adaptation of a Joyce Carol Oates novel, has been the subject of much divisive discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. Caren Spruch of Planned Parenthood told the Hollywood Reporter that she sees the film as ‘anti-abortion propaganda’. A tweet that went viral said filmmaker ‘Andrew Dominik didn’t even try to conceal his anti-choice views and hatred for Marilyn’. She is more profitable as a maiden than she is as a mother, and so she is robbed of that transformation by countless men – those who lust for her and those who earn from her While the divisiveness of the

Kill the Bill!

The more you study what is going on with the Just Stop Oil protests and the Public Order Bill, the more weird and inconsistent our national attitude to protesters seems. Britain, according to those opposed to the Bill, is a police state. If you look at their response to the Just Stop Oil protests, however, we look like pushovers. It would be easy to come to the conclusion, watching protesters block roads and the police often just stand and watch, that Britain is in desperate need of more laws to deal with this kind of thing: to make it clear that yes, everyone has the right to protest but no,

Why do we only care about American abortion rights?

In the week since Roe vs Wade was overturned, you’ve hardly been able to switch on the news or open a paper without hearing British politicians and commentators decrying the decision. Almost every woman I know was furious after hearing the news; I’m sure I wasn’t alone in failing to hold back a few tears of frustration at this eroding of established rights. But while we might feel – deeply, viscerally – for our cousins across the pond, we often forget about the difficulties women in our own country still face. Until October 2019, women in Northern Ireland who needed abortions were either forced to travel outside the province or

I’m proud of my son Danny Kruger, but I don’t agree with him on abortion

Most of the time I have an easy time of it on social media, with tweeters being nice about my colourful attire, liking my cooking hacks or flowers. But this week I had a dose of toxic hate. My son, the MP Danny Kruger, was unwise enough to join a debate in the Commons, saying he didn’t think women should have complete ‘bodily autonomy’ in the case of abortion as there’s another body – the baby’s – involved. I don’t agree with him, any more than I agree with his stance on assisted dying. He’s anti, I’m in favour. But that’s fine. I still love and admire him. There’s more to him that the

Rod Liddle

The law of unintended consequences

When I awoke the other morning and switched on my radio, the airwaves were alive with the sound of furious, transgressed women. Nobody else got a look in. What have we done to get their goat this time, I wondered, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. Nothing, it transpired. It was all in the USA, where a Supreme Court decision removed the constitutional right for women to have abortions and left it to the 50 states to decide instead. This last part was largely overlooked, incidentally: in essence the women were howling about decentralised democracy and what an awful thing it is. Democracy is sexist. Democracy is especially sexist

Kate Andrews

A breakthrough on abortion is there if Biden reaches for it

The US Supreme Court has not banned abortion. The point made by its ruling – a pretty reasonable one – was that such issues should be decided by elected politicians, not by appointed judges. ‘It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,’ wrote Justice Samuel Alito in his majority opinion. In other words: stop confusing the job of the court with the job of the legislature. If you want to protect women’s rights in the United States, pass a law to do so. But Congress has not passed such a law. As a result, millions of women are losing access

Does Meghan Markle know what ‘guttural’ means?

When the Duke of Sussex heard about the Supreme Court judgment revoking the ruling in Roe vs Wade, ‘His reaction last week was guttural, like mine,’ said his wife Meghan Markle. ‘Men need to be vocal in this moment,’ she told Vogue magazine. If we are to take her at her word, the Duchess of Sussex was saying that Prince Harry vocalised his reaction by growling. This sounds quite unlikely. But she added that her reaction was the same. It is impossible not to wonder whether she meant that theirs was a gut reaction. Of course one can say gut reaction, but it is impossible to say a reaction is

America’s abortion debate isn’t coming to Britain

Politicians are lining up to condemn the US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Activists are warning us that this is the start of a fresh assault on abortion rights in Britain. What starts in the core spreads to the periphery; a new wave of pro-life policies will soon be here. What’s less clear is where this wave is meant to come from, given that every major British party is opposed to the Supreme Court decision. Once again, Westminster politics has mistaken Britain for America. The Conservative party may be in hoc to a blonde tousle-haired populist, but it isn’t quietly stacking the judiciary with pro-life justices in order

It’s time to trust democracy again after Roe v. Wade

Progressive outrage greeted this week’s US Supreme Court majority decision which overturned Roe v. Wade. ‘Extreme ideology,’ thundered Joe Biden. It was ‘a huge blow to women’s human rights’ according to Michelle Bachelet at the UN; a case of ‘back to the Middle Ages,’ in the view of one melodramatic performer at Glastonbury. These are understandable views. But they are still misguided. Some background can help. Before January 1973 abortion in America was a state law matter. Some states were restrictive, some liberal: it all depended on public opinion and local politics. Roe v. Wade changed all that. It determined that the US Constitution implicitly protected the right to abortion almost absolutely up

The fire and fury of America’s abortion debate

I wonder at times how some of my fellow hacks in America get out of bed in the morning. The leak of a draft of a Supreme Court decision on abortion rights last week prompted what can only be called a collective nervous breakdown. ‘My teeth have been chattering uncontrollably for an hour,’ New York magazine’s Rebecca Traister vented. ‘Bodies/minds are so weird. Like, not euphemistically – actually chattering. Audibly. And full shaking body. Though otherwise wholly, rationally, well and truly expecting it.’ Well, I wouldn’t say wholly rational, Rebecca, but you do you. The terrifying ruling would send the abortion issue back from a single court to democratic debate

Why progressives can’t tolerate Christians

For decades, Christians have talked about feeling persecuted in advanced secular and liberal democracies. They’ve often sounded a bit hysterical. It’s true that governments and societies have moved towards a kind of post-Christianity. The world in which we live has adopted some of the gentler stuff about love and ignored the challenging stuff about sex. Devout Catholics, Anglicans and Evangelicals can therefore be made to feel a bit weird and out of place. But persecuted? Not really. Christians are on the whole free to live according to their faith without harassment, which is very unlike the situation in some Muslim counties — or China. Look at the vicious reaction to

We could learn a thing or two from Swiss democracy

There was another referendum in Switzerland over the weekend. This one was about protecting the young from the evils of tobacco by banning advertising anywhere children might see it. This strikes me as a good deal more liberal than the measure from New Zealand’s mildly fascistic Jacinda Ardern, who insists that young people must never smoke at all, ever, or indeed the situation here where none of us is allowed actually to see a cigarette packet in case it gives us ideas. But it’s not just cigarette advertisements that the Swiss were voting on. There are other referendums on animal (and human) experiments in research as well as a couple